But Can I Measure Up?

by Erin on January 7, 2009

I don't usually make new year's resolutions — I mostly just try AGAIN to do all the things I really, really meant to do in the previous year — but if I were to make a resolution for 2009, it might be NOT to buy new fabric until I've made a dent in the fabric I already have.

Okay, let's see a show of hands from folks who have also made this resolution, in any year. (Hollow laughter optional.)

Of course, on the heels of that resolution, Stephanie kindly sends me this:


Recess Rulers American Jane Moda

Wouldn't this make just the cutest ever shirtdress? I would, however, draw the line (no pun intended) at pencil buttons, as I am not a teacher. (But if you wanted to, I wouldn't judge. I'm not a judge, either.)

What would you do with this fabric? I know it's not to everyone's taste, so "set it on fire," is a perfectly acceptable answer …

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly January 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Adorable dress for a little girl!

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DivaJean January 7, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Who would want fabric that basically measures how big you are around?Not for me.

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Sara January 7, 2009 at 12:20 pm

This is giving me images of Ms. Frizzle– pencil buttons and compass shoes! Or protractor shoes and pencil earrings?

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Laura January 7, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Im not bold enough to wear it as a dress, but it would make an adorable bag or book tote. Also would make a witty apron or work belt pouches for a woodworker or other craftsperson, as well as a sewer.

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Regenia January 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Is it to scale? It’d make a perfect knitting or sewing tote if it is…. Comes with built in measuring tape!

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MommytoAva January 7, 2009 at 12:26 pm

i would make a fabric D-ring belt to remind myself (and others) that size doesn’t really matter. :) i’m also on board with stash busting this year. we recently moved and i promised my hubby that 8 bins of fabric will become 2 by August ’09 (our next glorious move). good luck to us both!

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Nicole January 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I think it would be adorable as a tote or messenger bag. I would also probably make a cute shirt or dress of it for my daughter, since she’s still too young to object. ;)

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Marjie January 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm

For a tote of some sort? Super. For clothing? Nope. I don’t need people thinking the measurements mean something, especially once I saw numbers in the 50 to 53 range!

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Helen January 7, 2009 at 1:23 pm

A tote bag or a child’s apron and that’s it. No clothing with measuring tapes, hippos, or elephant prints. -Helen

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j.b. January 7, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I actually HAVE this fabric, and am using it for the border of a quilt (contemporary art quilt) that has a dress form on it and vintage laces and various other fun stuff. It’s gonna look amazing!AND yeah, it would make an amazing shirt dress for those of us bold enough to pull it off (or on, as the case may be!!)au revoir,~j.b.

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Tara January 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I have a friend from Zambia and I’ll bet she’d take this and make one of those elaborate head wraps for herself. . . she’s very statuesque and she could pull it off. Of course, the fact that she’s completely gorgeous and about seven feet tall certainly doesn’t hurt.

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Kathryn January 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Pleats! It’d be irregular, to match the tapes, but … it would match the tapes! Plus they’d be vertical so you lose the “how big am I around” aspect…

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Simone January 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Holding hand up on that on going no more fabric resolution and considering this fabric for lining a denim suit jacket(that I would take on and off alot!) and using left overs for a bandana to wear as a head scarf with the suit…

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moggy January 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Love it – I’ve got a similar print, but with evenly sized tape measures. I’m planning something with a chevron effect – both bodice and a-line skirt, if I can manage it.

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julia January 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm

How about boxers for your favorite carpenter. That way you could see if their “9 inches” really measures up!

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bani January 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Fantastic fabric! I’d probably just stash it, since I don’t ever sew. *grumble* But I’d like to make… hm, not sure. I think a simple skirt, since the fabric is so busy. And because that’s probably all I could master…

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diatryma January 7, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Important questions: inches or centimeters? And are they accurate?

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caseykoester January 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I’d like to use this fabric to make the collar, cuffs and a wide waist-cinching belt on a slim shirt dress. I probably have the dress itself be black, so that all those colors could pop like they should. Ha – you’ve got my imagination all in a tizzy now!

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Anonymous January 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Not buy fabric? Isn’t that bad for the economy?Ok, so any reason, however feeble…

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Myra January 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I have that as part of the line, Recess, from Moda. But mine were jelly roll size. Maybe as a lining for a jacket, or for a child, but I could not see it as an adult dress, ditto-ing some of the earlier comments about the numbers vs your measurements.

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Meretricious Consideration January 7, 2009 at 3:31 pm

I would make a full, pleated skirt, set into a solid black waistband, and I would run the tape measures up and down rather than around my hips. Cassandra

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marysews January 7, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I have a piece of that fabric destined to be boxers for my DS. It has connotations, just like the golf ball print did. Besides, DH admits that men’s measurements are always off …

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ZipZapKap January 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm

*hand raised*Already made it. And already broke it. Pitiful.

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Allison January 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Hand up on the resolution, here, too.And the corresponding one, too: “I will finish all those projects I’ve bought fabric for.” (I rarely actually stash, as in buying just to keep around; I always buy with some idea about the fabric’s eventual use, but I don’t always get it made …)This year I do have a pretty good incentive, though: when the baby arrives in April, I expect that my sewing time will be really, really limited! So I’ve got to get a year’s worth of sewing done in the next few months! Aaargh!

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Alvrodul January 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm

If I were to make a dress of a fabric like this, I would ensure that the “stripes” were vertical. Though, truth to be told, it is not a fabric I would choose to buy. At least for dressmaking.I _do_ have a bit of a very similar fabric. I bought some unbelievably cool buttons with SCIENCE FICTION MOTIVES!!! and ordered a bag of quilt fabric scraps at the same time. One of the scraps was of a fabric very similar to this one.It _will_ go into a quilt. Some time, somehow.(And, Erin, you really should share the URL that I sent you where I found those buttons with the other devotees of Dressaday. If they don’t like the SF buttons, perhaps they will like some of the other motives)

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Janel January 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Curtains for a 1st grade classroom or run screaming in the opposite direction. I’m flexible. ;) lol

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belphebe January 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Ooh, Science Fiction buttons? I’d love them! A few years ago I made a “purse cover” from “little green men” Alien fabric; SF buttons would have been perfect for it. (Purse cover: instead of taking everything out of my purse every time I changed outfits, I made “slipcovers” for one very simple purse. I could have a purse that matched my dress or that went with a particular theme, like an alien purse for a Science-Fiction convention.)If I saw that ruler fabric in the store, I’d buy some. I think I would do as some people suggested and run the rulers vertical instead of horizontal. Or perhaps cut it on the bias.Someone said no hippo, elephant, ruler, or other such prints on a large person. I should follow that rule as well, but I didn’t. I bought a wonderful Orca whale print fabric and made a tank top and skirts-over-shorts set to wear to the beach. I also wore that outfit on my recent visit to SeaWorld in San Diego. Unfortunately, it was a little cold on the day that we went to SeaWorld so I was covered up and most people didn’t get to see the pattern.

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grandmother January 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm

No is all I can say.

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scarabee January 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I think if you did chevrons in opposite directions, bodice and skirt, as Moggy described, you could create a wonderful hourglass effect…

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peanut January 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm

I think I’d make a special apron for sewing in – you know, with pockets for my scissors (reinforced lining in that one), a pencil and a little notebook or pattern instructions and a cute attached pin cushion. I’d just feel like I was getting stuff done wearing an apron made of this fabric.

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Shaina January 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Okay, apparently I’m the odd woman out here because I ADORE that fabric. I would make a charming vintage-y sort of fitted blouse: short sleeves with the barest hint of puff, Peter Pan collar, subtle piping, maybe even a sort of yoke like a western shirt, and throw on a little chest pocket and button-tabbed sleeves if I were feeling up to it. Wear it with a great pencil skirt, some cute flats and a cardigan. Okay, this is going from “idea” to “elaborate fantasy in which I am also slightly taller” far quicker than I had intended.

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Jonquil January 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Bias trim. Then use it along the pockets in something in gray linen.

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Nora January 7, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Oooooh, I love it. Love it! Why not clothes? I think it would make a fun A-line skirt with the pieces cut on the bias to make a “V” pattern.Also, what’s up, gals, with the not wanting to be measured? It’s just numbers (plus I doubt any line goes all the way around). I’m reminded a little of the “fat rant” that made a splash on YouTube awhile ago:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUTJQIBI1oA

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.DQ January 7, 2009 at 7:14 pm

hmm, if i had this fabric i’d probably make a cute jacket.that was a good resolution to make..if only i was brave enough to do the same!

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dwj January 7, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I think I would make a cute tote out of that fabric. And I just said to myself I can’t buy anymore fabric until I use up everything I have. So much money in that trunk of mine…

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annie January 7, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I’m in need of a sewing machine cover and I can’t think of a better fabric

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Theresa January 7, 2009 at 7:37 pm

sheepishly holding hand up ….and if I had that fabric I would mail it to you…so I don’t have to on fire

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DashingFabrics January 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm

it’s ok to buy fabric. Think of it as a retirement plan. When you are too old to get out to buy fabric and/or too nearsighted to buy it online, you’ll have plenty to work with.wow. that is really lame, but I’ve been using it anyway……

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jen January 7, 2009 at 7:49 pm

tote or a skirt! pillow?

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50sgal January 7, 2009 at 8:38 pm

i just discovered your blog. As I am currently living in the year 1955, I would most likely make an adorable apron to use while sewing or darning. It would also make a great lining for a fitted coat and I would not mind cuffs and a collar on fitted full skirt. We are still wearing the NEW LOOK length here in the middle of the 50′s.

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sewducky January 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm

LOL I don’t have much of a stash and my fabric sucks here but even still, no. This is not for me. It just doesn’t fit into my whole “librian chic with the retro vibes and stripper shoes” persona.’Sides, it is not ugly enough.

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Piroska January 7, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Gorgeous fabric. BTW, you probably know already, but Claire McCardell’s “What Shall I Wear” is being reprinted in March this year and will be $24.95 for a hardback copy.

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Margaux. January 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I’d probably do a pin cushion or a tiny pillow.

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Margaux. January 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I’d probably do a pin cushion or a tiny pillow.

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libby January 7, 2009 at 11:20 pm

best comments ever…Boxers is by far the best idea. That said, this fabric is all about you Erin, and no, no resolutions here. I spent $300 on fabric on January 1st at the Gorgeousfabrics.com 25% off sale. But it should last me all year.

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Anonymous January 8, 2009 at 1:24 am

I think it would make a good set of pajamas or a nightgown. I would prefer to sew in something like that. If only the world would go away

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mickey January 8, 2009 at 3:22 am

I love it— it’s just what I was looking for last year when I wanted to make a skirt for my sewing table (a throw-away from a fast food restaurant). Now that I have a new table however, I see pajama pants, boxers, tote bag, appliance covers, quilting options, aprons, pin cushions, notion caddies, shoebags… and even a blouse or skirt. New year resolution? It’s never to make resolutions!

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Purl Buttons January 8, 2009 at 3:57 am

pillow, bias trim, tote, interlining (sorry, I really think it is unattractive)

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Ms Manners January 8, 2009 at 5:32 am

Years ago there was a comedian who said “I would never where “Guess” brand jeans because I would be afraid that the people behind me at the mall would say “oh I don’t know 250? 275?”…… for me this pattern would have the same result…however if you turned it length ways maybe you would seem taller…..just a thought.

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Latter-Day Flapper January 8, 2009 at 7:14 am

Thought you might be amused to see that Spoonflower was mentioned in the New York Times today.

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Nathalie January 8, 2009 at 7:37 am

Love it and would happily make a dress out of it. What’s more, the rulers seem to stop and start irregularly (as opposed to going from nought to 2yds) so you’d be hard pushed to guess anyone’s size I reckon. I really like the ideas of chevrons, but a shirtdress with plain horizontal stripes would also work a treat… I’m really envious now — I’ve had my eye on that fabric and this only makes it worse! But, must cut down on fabric this year, and am holding out for some 50s reissue Liberty fabric in the sales as soon as I can get myself into town…

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Nature January 8, 2009 at 8:54 am

I would love to make a denim dress with this colorful fabric as a vest and tie-backs for my three year old. The denim would have to be the same soft blue as the measuring tapes in the fabric.It would be perfect since she always insists “But I’m biiig!”. She would have the measurements to prove it right on the spot.

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annet January 8, 2009 at 10:26 am

i’d make this into a pleated skirt, might ook nice… and keep the rest of the outfit VERY sober of course. this is hard to pull off as an all-over look.

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Leizel January 8, 2009 at 10:27 am

I like it–the colors are great.I’d say a dress or shirt using the rulers vertically would be fine. A big poofy skirt would be excellent, maybe with a solid-color bodice and ruler pattern collar. And the buttons would be big, plastic, and either the orange or the green.Most likely, I’d buy it and it would end up on the shelf with all of my other crazy prints that I love but have no idea what to do with, such as the red with Chinese takeout boxes and the white with the “Mice-a-roni” print.

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Kristen January 8, 2009 at 10:29 am

i go with cassandra – a full skirt! then I could tone it down a little with a plain cardi set. I love it though!

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Renee January 8, 2009 at 10:54 am

I am in the group that loves this fabric. The idea of chevron stripes, or running the pattern vertical and into a pleated skirt it perfect.As for buying more fabric – just having the goal of restraint is lofty.

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The Celebrated Author January 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

Oh my God I MUST HAVE! I’m going through a very punny stage, anyway, so it’s perfect. The only thing is I’d want them all vertical… you know… but that is some of the most ADORABLE fabric I have EVER seen in my life EVER EVER!!

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The Hillbilly Banjo Queen: January 8, 2009 at 11:34 am

There are so many answers! A smock for a preschooler. A fun skirt for a little girl. A great tote bag. A skirt for me. Wall art. A sewing machine cover. I could go on, but I will stop now.

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Mary January 8, 2009 at 11:45 am

Hello, I am new to your blog, but I really like it. I found it from your Dictionary Evangelist blog, which I found from listening to your talk at TED – which was great.Anyway, I think that your fabric would make a good pencil skirt if it was vertical tapes, but the horizontal might lend itself to tote bags, as others have said.

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Sam January 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

This year, my one and only resolution is “don’t buy any more fabric”. Of course, I look back to last year’s new year’s blog entry and see, “don’t buy any more fabric”. See how well that one did? I wish you the best of luck!

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Justine January 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I’d use this fabric with some acrylic medium and make the cover of a hand bound journal with it.If made to make clothing out of it, I’d opt for “burn it”.

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Sarah January 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Craft bag lining.

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Jen ~ MOMSPatterns January 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I’d also be leary of wearing a fabric that measured me around.. lol BUT Maybe it would look alright as a dress if you used it vertically instead of horizontally.I also like the idea of curtains for a class room! Math teacher vibe for sure!One thing’s for sure. I would never keep it on my desk else I’d be trying to grab at it thinking it was one of my *many times lost* tape measures. hahaha!

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Sara January 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I think an apron or half-apron would be a very sweet use of it. I can’t tell the scale (actual inches? Or FAKE inches?) but it looks pretty busy for a dress.

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Cookie January 8, 2009 at 4:37 pm

for lining a denim suit jacket (that I would take on and off alot!) For practical purposes, I love this idea best! I also like the idea of the pleated skirt, with the pattern running up and down….lots of verticals, and the extra ones would expose themselves as you moved!I don’t consider this print too busy, because the colors are muted and the repeat pattern is basically stripes. I wouldn’t be afraid of a slim, lightweight suit made up in this. In fact, I would probably wear it to death, as a “Lipstick Librarian” look.

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Lisa January 8, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Hmmm….this fabric screams “grade school” to me so I would make book covers or pencil cases out of it.

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Cindy January 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I like your shirtdress idea! But..I am thinking of a fun, simple a-line skirt with a classic white, or yellow, t-shirt and white converse/keds. Hmmm…sounds good…I might order some! As long as it doesn’t actually measure my hips!

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Cel Petro January 8, 2009 at 7:01 pm

quilt for a carpenter

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-- January 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm

crafting apron.

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Sarah N January 8, 2009 at 8:08 pm

OT, but hopefully you’ve already pre-ordered the reprint of Claire McCardell’s book? I saw it on fashonista.com and thought of you. It comes out on March 5th.

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Pinup Dresses January 8, 2009 at 8:28 pm

I’d wear it in a shirtwaist dress.. or lining as someone mentioned :) Love it!It’d make a fun belt too. For novelty’s sake.

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Anonymous January 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Love this fabric! I think it would be perfect for curtains, wall art, a bulletin board cover or sewing machine cover for my studio. Also love the apron idea. Don’t think DH would go for the boxer idea, but DD says it would make a great belt. She clearly has good taste. ;)I’m going to have to get some!!!Resolutions????? No way.Andrea

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Wolf Woman January 8, 2009 at 11:22 pm

I would make a knitting/sewing bag out of this, especially if it’s to scale because that would be invaluable to have around for those days when I forget my measuring tape…

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SweetPeaknits January 9, 2009 at 5:01 am

I would use it to make a slip for my dress mannequin. I think it would look quite querky.

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Anonymous January 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Think I’d make an A-line skirt in navy cotton and use this on the inverted pleats so you’d get a flash of it without it being overkill! Its cheerful anyway.

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sewducky January 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm

annet, exactly. For me I tone down most things, and only because I made a wild dress recently, but the remaining will soon be a princess sleeved blouse for jeans.

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Delphine January 10, 2009 at 8:17 pm

I actually have the same resolution… how embarressing for me…

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goldilocks January 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I’d wear it in dress form, but with everything else in black– shoes, tights, cardigan, purse– maybe even a black scarf or hat. I never seem to tire of contrasting a crazy print or color against all-black. It would be a fun summer playdress, too.

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HollyP January 11, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Whatever I made from this fabric, it could not be clothing for myself. My resolution for New Year 2004 was to never again buy or wear clothing with horizontal stripes. This may be the only resolution I’ve ever kept in my life.

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kprentice January 12, 2009 at 3:28 pm

I just bought this same fabric for my 19yo daughter..at her insistence, I am making a ruffled mini out of it! Go figure!

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Jean January 12, 2009 at 11:13 pm

You know, it would make a cute dress if you could cut it so it was going up and down instead of around! Then find some great fabric that had scissors or thread/pins on it and you’ve got it made!LoL

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wolfwhistle January 14, 2009 at 4:22 am

I think it’s lovely and I would definitely wear it! One of the other comments mentioned it might be nicer to run vertically instead of horizontally and I agree!But I think it’s a great material. Perfect for a shirtdress – or maybe one of your Duros?

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Lynda January 15, 2009 at 10:53 pm

I like it I think it’s quite funky.Fun arpon.

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indigotangerine January 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm

oooh, such adorable fabric, I think a full skirted, elbow sleeve shirtdress would be divine, as would a pair of pumps covered in it. (though it would probably be wise to not wear them together)

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furrybees January 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm

I think a very tight pair kneelength shorts (that emphasis bottie width and thigh girth). Pair them with some black socks that come half way up your calf and that should complete the humiliation, I mean look.

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Anonymous January 19, 2009 at 9:26 pm

A School Bag! Or mayybe a pencil case!

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